I would argue that this is especially so considering that Groupon wished to begin doing business in China. Because of the long standing negative relationship shared between Tibet and China, these negative emotions now play into the business aspect of Groupon as Chinese companies will view such a blatant statement as a sign of disrespect and overall cultural insensitivity.
With damage done in markets both at home and potential ones abroad, Groupon needs to begin a very strong counter campaign and begin PR reparations. Although the company wishes to stand by its decision to create the commercial and educate consumers about its intent, this is yet another incorrect response by a company that seemingly does not care nor include consumers in its competitive strategy. The company should seek to apologize to its consumers and to China. Although the cause they wished to benefit would have been an admirable socially oriented event, this still would not have been the way to enter negotiations with the Chinese. Unfortunately, the company cannot do anything further than issue apologies without incurring further penalties. If it wishes to ardently pursue China, it may have to remove its ties with the Tibetan fund. Conversely, if it were to do this, then many more consumers at the home base would cry foul. Even worse, it would go against the principles whereupon the company was built, that being to have a socially concerned company trying to support people in need.
At this point in time, they must adhere to holding onto the Tibetan fund. This will at least help to lock-in customers in their home market, and although in the short run it may completely eradicate chances to successful business with China, in time they may be able to build better a better relationship with the company. Important as well, is the potential consumer in China. They may notice the oppression and recognize more readily the similarities between their own situation and that formerly faced by the Tibetan people. Should Groupon finally enter China, this will be recognized and rewarded. Similar venues may be available to the company if they go into other countries. Such importance will be placed on holding to their ethical roots, that if they should forego them now, the result would be devastating. By garnering more widespread approval the company may then issue a challenge to China to review its actions and thereby inspire a shift of thought.
In addition to the apologies required, further commercials and ads must more firmly establish a positive message between the company and it’s standing on social issues. In this way they can begin to rebuild trust with its consumer base. This could quite easily be done by including the names of whatever charities, groups, or funds that the company wishes to be associated with, which can be tailored to fit individual advertisements in different media to better align with market segment tastes.
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